Jon and Jesse Have Dinner and Get to Know Each Other
[players not pups, current]
Turning down the flame, Jesse gives the alfredo sauce a quick stir, then takes the fettucine off the stovetop to drain. No, he still can't cook. But he's getting better, darn it, and he can manage store-bought fresh stuff without charring it beyond recognition. And anyway, he flatters himself that Jon's coming over for conversation tonight, not gourmet cuisine. Checking the time, Jesse smoothes down his shirt and pours a glass of waiting Merlot. Julian's away until late tonight, so it seemed like a great time to invite a friend over for dinner.
It's been a while since Jon actually got a chance to see a friend for dinner, and so he's glad for the invitation to Jesse's house. White roses for friendship in one hand, he rings the bell with the other, grinning when Jesse opens the door. "Hi! Hope I'm not early?"
"You're perfect," Jesse assures him with a wide smile. "Uh-oh," he says, spying the flowers. "Tell me those aren't for me. Otherwise I'll have to start flirting with you and we'll never get to have dinner," he explains with a laugh, leading Jon into the house.
"White's supposedly for friendship," Jon teases, bussing a kiss to the corner of Jesse's mouth and then following him through the house. "Though I do have a bad habit of flirting with my friends."
"You and me both," Jesse says with a laugh. "Okay, mini-tour. This is Julian's place, I moved in and I haven't changed anything major outside the bedroom. This has always been one of my favorite parts of the whole house," he says, pausing before a floor-to-ceiling aquarium separating the living room from the hall. "We used to have a few more fish in there, but I suspect a couple were eaten over our last vacation."
"Jesus," Jon exclaims, holding his finger up near the glass. "This is amazing."
"Don't you love it?" Jesse is delighted to find a like mind. "It's a lot of maintenance, but... it's just so bloody awesome." He watches one of the lionfish dart through the live plants for a moment more before saying, "Oh, but do you like to swim? You've got to check out the slides," he says, already leading the way out to the patio, excited as a kid in a candy store.
"Slides? Like a waterslide?" Jon exclaims, his face reflecting similar glee.
"Yeah!" It's immature, but so what? Immaturity is kind of the whole point of the water slides anyway. Jesse pushes open the sliding door, ignoring the chill arriving hand-in-hand with the setting winter sun. "That one's actually longer," he says, pointing at the stairway up from the mosaic pool edge, "but that one..." He points up at the slide accessed only from the second-floor patio, and just grins. Well, it speaks for itself.
"Holy shit!" Jon exclaims, his jaw dropping in total awe, his hands wringing a little in his excitement.
"Yeah." Jesse grins proudly. "My first date with Julian, he took me swimming out here. It was love at first sight, for me." His blue eyes twinkle mischievously.
"Damn, I don't blame you," Jon exclaims. "This is crazy awesome."
"I'd invite you for a swim, but... I don't know, maybe we could join the Polar Bear Club. Let's warm up with some wine first," Jesse says with a laugh, turning to go back into the house, taking the door off the kitchen this time. One step inside the doorway, though, he pauses, his eyes widening in alarm. "Shit!" he cries, dashing to the stove and turning off the flame beneath the now-burning alfredo sauce. "Ohh, fuck." And here he'd been so proud at the thought of not poisoning his guest.
"Don't panic," Jon says, laughing and taking the pan off the stove. "Get me a bowl, I can save it." When Jesse produces a bowl, he carefully skims the sauce into it, keeping the gross scorched bits in the bottom of the pan. "It might taste a little smokey, but it'll still be good."
"You can do that?" Jesse watches in fascination. "I would've thought it just ruined the whole thing once it started burning." But he's not arguing, hell no. He pulls the cold marinated vegetables from the refrigerater, balancing them with the fettucine, and nods to Jon. "All right then. Grab it and follow," he says, heading into the dining room. Jon may be confident that dinner isn't wrecked, but Jesse wants more Merlot, just to be sure.
"Well like I said, a little smokey, but it'd only just started to burn. Another minute and it's toast," Jon explains, following Jesse to the dining room. "Don't cook much?"
"That's Julian's job," Jesse answers, filling Jon's wineglass. "And he's brilliant at it, so why should I compete?" He chuckles. "I've eaten better in the past couple years than I did in all my bachelor years before, combined. Are you a good cook?"
"It's not my number one talent, but I'm decent at it. I can improvise a little, follow a recipe. I had pretty extensive service training when I started in the scene, and food and drink is a big part of that," Jon explains, serving himself some pasta and vegetables. "My Sir, Simon, he likes to cook some, but other times he'll let me take over the kitchen."
"That's really cool. My service training... well, it wasn't about food," Jesse says, muffling a laugh. He lifts his wineglass and taps it gently against Jon's before drinking again. "Cheers. Did you take Establishment classes?"
"No, this was before the Establishment," Jon replies, grinning as he sips. "But you know, I did have other kinds of service training as well. Food, drink, housework, sexual service, everything. I had a one-year contract to a Sir that specializes in training boys interested in service, extended to two years."
"Oh cool!" Jesse arranges his food on his plate but doesn't dig in just yet, keeping a close eye on Jon. "He sounds like an amazing resource. Are you still in touch with him?" And he realizes it's almost weird, the way he's asking: two submissives talking, all business, like... well, like it's a normal part of their day which the rest of the world just doesn't understand yet.
"Not really," Jon admits, smiling and shaking his head at himself. "You know, it had never really occurred to me to use him as a resource. I started a six-year relationship with a Sir pretty soon after that training, and when that ended I had a brief failed rebound and then needed a bit of a recovery period before I could get back into the scene."
"Yeah, I totally understand that." Jesse twirls a forkful of fettucine on his plate. "I actually tried to go vanilla for several years. It... sort of worked. I mean, it worked in that it gave me breathing room and I didn't get hurt again. But... well, you know I missed it. I kicked and screamed myself all the way back to kink."
Jon nods. "You talked to Marlee about abuse. I don't really know a lot about that, but I understand breathing room. Richard, the long-term Sir, he left me for a younger man, and it was pretty painful. I jumped into a relationship for a year with Richard's exact opposite, but that didn't work either. I wanted more than the Sir was willing to give, someone more dominant, and I pushed him too hard. So when he broke up with me I went vanilla for four years."
"Holy shit! Give me some," Jesse says, holding his hand up in solidarity and waiting for a slap. "And how'd that work for you, dare I ask?" As if he doesn't know.
Jon laughs as he hi fives, shaking his head. "Like you can't guess. It wasn't terrible, actually, but the craving came back. I like cruising, sometimes it's fun just being a vanilla gay-boy, but the need for a Sir is less sexual for me and more emotional. I need a specific kind of structure, you know? I ended up bouncing right back, placing an ad on the Est boards, pretty much begging for a Sir."
"But it worked, right?" Jesse grins. "I was kind of slowly dipping my toes in when I came back to the Est, determined not to lose control and drown myself right at the outset. It worked for a few months, and I just kept telling myself it was enough. But when Julian came into my life it was like a tidal wave. It wasn't even a choice anymore, you know? It just was."
"Yeah," Jon replies, frowning a little as he eats his pasta. "I wasn't cautious at all. I don't really know what happened. It's hard to even look back on that relationship, with Jason, the Sir that I found online... I made a lot of mistakes. I might have left the scene permanently if Simon weren't so amazing. He was my second attempt at coming back."
"He's lucky you stuck around and gave it another shot," Jesse muses, watching Jon. "What kind of mistakes, may I ask? I mean, you weren't new at that point. Out of practice, though, I'd think. And like you said, not careful."
"Out of practice," Jon agrees. "I don't know that it was a bad thing, not being careful. I just meant... contrasted to what you're describing, dipping your toes, that wasn't me. I desperately needed a Sir... I think that was the problem, though, being out of practice." He takes a few more bites, considering as he chews. "I got a lot of things wrong. I was constantly screwing up, forgetting things, making my Sir angry."
"Yeah." Jesse nods, pushing his vegetables around his plate. "And this is where I say that he should've understood the position you were in, should've been willing to make some allowances where necessary. But I know you already know that." He sighs. "I take it that he wasn't? What he should have been, I mean."
"No, no, he wasn't a bad Sir," Jon interjects quickly. "He's young, and I think... he's looking for a certain level of perfection. Someone with fewer limits, maybe." And if a twinge of bitterness seeps into Jon's tone at that, it's directed entirely towards himself. "I wasn't matched ideally to him."
"Which is all your fault, right. Because why shouldn't he get everything he wants, at your expense?" It's gentle enough, but Jesse kicks Jon under the table, nailing his shin. "I totally agree."
Jon smiles and shakes his head. "That's not what I mean. It's just... I don't know. There are certain things I learned when I was trained about doms and subs and behavior. Questioning a Sir's behavior makes me uncomfortable. Like I said at the coffee klatsch, as long as Sirs follow the code of behavior they're supposed to, I trust them to do the right thing. Jason never ignored a safeword, he never bent the rules."
There's a weight of sadness underlying Jon's words, and it pulls at Jesse. "So, he never did anything technically wrong?" Jesse murmurs, watching Jon's eyes. "It sounds like he didn't get much right with you, either."
"He gave me what I asked for," Jon says quietly. "I wasn't asking for love or companionship or undeserved praise. I needed someone to give me structure, set rules. He did that. Not all Sirs are... nice," he reasons, twirling more pasta onto his fork.
"No." True enough. That knowledge doesn't make Jesse feel any better. "What about now, with Simon? What are you asking for?" Jesse's praying it's something, at least. The thought of Jon continuing to abase himself so thoroughly - even with a 'nice' Sir - just makes Jesse cringe.
"Simon? Oh, I don't ask for anything with Sir," Jon says with a fond smile. "He just... offers. He told me right off that he wanted a service sub, and he likes the kinds of things I do, and he also told me that he wanted more of a... partner. A friend. He's so fabulous. I'm really trying hard not to make mistakes with him." Jon sips his wine, contemplating. "I really can't lose him, Jesse," he admits, smile fading just a little. "He's the most extraordinary Sir I've ever known."
That does it. Jesse can't just sit anymore, his need to touch is too great. Tossing his napkin aside he gets up and circles the table, then sits down across Jon's lap. It's a bit awkward, sure, particularly since he's not making himself quite as comfortable as he would with Julian, for obvious reasons. "Jon, seriously," he whispers, laying his fingertips lightly on Jon's cheeks. "Don't talk about losing him. Don't put it in those terms."
Jon can't help but smile at Jesse's affectionate reaction, and he wraps his arms around Jesse's waist, grateful for the emotional support Jesse's trying to lend. "I can't help thinking about it. I haven't cared about someone this much... ever. And the last time I fell in love, with Richard, he left me for someone younger, prettier. Believe me, I've noticed that my relationship life expectancy has been decreasing since then."
"Yeah, because you were involved with idiots." Jesse gives him a fond slap upside the head, admiring the way Jon's eyes sparkle with life. Idiots, all of them. "Weren't you just telling me how amazing Simon is? Surely he's intelligent too, right? Maybe a little brilliance in there somewhere?"
Jon nudges Jesse in the stomach in response to the slap, but can't help but smile and blush at the mention of Simon. "Yes, he's perfectly intelligent. But that doesn't mean I'm not flawed in some ways. And if they were idiots, then how do you think they got to be Sirs, huh?"
"Like it necessarily takes brains to be a dom? We're the ones who have to follow all the orders," Jesse laughs, charmed by Jon's blush. And in truth, just glad to know he's not the only boy out there who still blushes. "What'll it take to get you to stop thinking of yourself as flawed?"
Jon smiles and shrugs. "For me to stop screwing up, I guess. It's so nice, when Sir praises me, but I guess... I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop," he admits, the first time he's done so out loud.
With a sigh Jesse drags up a chair and sits down next to Jon. He tops off their wineglasses, thinking, then asks, "Does he know any of this? Your history, your... expectations?"
"Sort of. When he told me that he wanted me to be his boy, I warned him that I'm a bit of a risk because my relationships keep getting shorter. And I told him that Jason left after six months because I couldn't get things right, but not details. I told him about how I'm afraid that I've been... well, too old to be the right kind of boy, since Richard. We haven't talked about it much since. I guess I've been sort of... ignoring it on purpose, trying to enjoy a good thing while it lasts," Jon admits, eating some more pasta and drinking some more wine.
Frowning, Jesse slumps in his chair, crossing his legs at the ankles. "I'd love to tell you that your attitude sucks and you've got things all wrong," he says, looking over at Jon. "Except I've spent too much time there myself. I told Julian what I thought he absolutely needed to know in order to deal with me, you know? But that was mostly it, the minimum."
Jon nods, reaching out and resting a hand on Jesse's knee, rubbing gently. "Yeah. And in my situation, too, it's much grayer. I mean you were dealing with abuse, I just have a bad track record as a submissive. If I were to talk to him about it, what would I say?"
"Say that... that you're worried. Ask him for some reassurance. But forget that for a second." Jesse shakes his head, sitting up and leaning forward, intently searching Jon's eyes. "Who the hell told you that you were fucking up in the first place? That can't be only from you, this idea that it's all your fault as the sub. Someone's told you that. Mental abuse, emotional... that's just as real as the other kind, Jon. It does damage."
Jon's eyes dart away instinctively. It's hard to meet an intense gaze like that when you're not really sure what to think anymore. "I learned in training that I have certain responsibilities to the dominant I'm with," he says carefully. "The dominants I've had have been honest when I'm not fulfilling those responsibilities, when I make a mistake. That's their job. Jason, especially, but that doesn't mean he was necessarily doing something wrong," he mumbles to Jesse's knees. There's a certain logical obstacle here, a war between the uncertainty he feels, the nagging feeling in his gut sometimes when he thinks about what happened with Jason, and the training that taught him not to question a dominant.
"Did you learn about their responsibilities to you? Did you ever tell any of them when they were handling you wrong, guiding you wrong?"
"Yes. I learned that a Sir should provide a boy with praise when he does well, protection, that sort of thing. And I've used my safeword several times. No one's ever ignored it, or warned me not to use it."
"God." Jesse drops his head, wincing. "They're supposed to protect us when we fuck up, too. Did any of your Sirs seem to know that? Their responsibilities to us aren't supposed to be conditional on whether we're behaving perfectly or not." His voice is gentle, backed by real pain.
Jon takes a deep breath, pressing the heels of his hands against his temples. "I don't know, Jesse. No one ever said 'I'll give you the sun, the moon, and the stars,' you know? But that didn't stop me from falling in love with Richard. He had a firm hand, but he was a good man and he loved me, for a time. He had strict rules because he wanted me to do my best, and he wanted me to have the structure that I needed. I can't blame him for that."
Jesse shrugs. "I can. I can blame him for not being more to someone who needed him to be." He takes Jon's hands in his. "You deserved better than that. You should have had better." Simon'd better do more.
"He's a good man," Jon repeats. "And Jason may not have been a great fit for me, but he didn't commit any grievous sin." Jon smiles, leaning in to kiss Jesse's forehead. "You're a really good friend, and to someone you barely know besides. But I don't think I've necessarily had less than I deserve."
"I do." Jesse frowns, wryly stubborn. "Look, I'm sorry if I'm coming on too strong," he says, letting go of Jon's hands once more. "It's a personal thing, I'll admit it." He sighs. "But you can talk to me, all right? If you need to."
"You're not coming on too strong," Jon argues. "I think... I need a friend these days, and I like you. It's just difficult, all of this, it brings up a lot of difficult stuff in my head. And I can't answer everything because I don't know how, or if I answer I'm afraid I'll dig myself into a hole. You understand?"
Jesse nods. "Yeah, I get that. I guess I'm just most worried that you don't have an outlet. It's important to me to know that you have someone you can talk freely to."
"It's not that I don't have someone," Jon disagrees. "I feel comfortable talking to you, and I feel comfortable talking to Sir. It's more... internal constraints. Or maybe a case of my perception making it hard for me to analyse my past relationships fully."
"I can completely understand that. I mean, perfectly clear self-perception is kind of a superhuman power anyway," Jesse says, chuckling a little. Thinking things over he sighs, trying to accept that - yet again - he can't fix the world overnight. "All right. So long as you know that you can talk to me without needing to already have it all figured out... I'll let you off this time." Irony glints in his smile.
"I really do appreciate that, Jesse," Jon says with a smile, squeezing Jesse's knee. "Sometimes persistence is good, I just... need to get to a point where I don't feel like I'm walking into a hurricane every time I think about it."
Jesse grins crookedly. He definitely doesn't want to be stressing Jon out, or taking existing stress and making it worse by poking at him... Reaching for his wineglass, Jesse drains the last of his Merlot. "Dessert? I didn't cook it."
Jon laughs and nods. "I'm a sucker for sweets. Could we sit in the living room, maybe?" he suggests, hoping for a bit of a cuddle after the difficult conversation. Okay, so he doesn't normally ask people he barely knows to snuggle with him, but people he barely knows don't normally climb into his lap at dinner, either. He somehow doubts that Jesse will mind.
"Yeah, sure. Go chill with the fish," Jesse invites, starting to gather up their used dishes. "I'll bring it out to you."
"Sure you don't need a hand?" Jon offers as he gets up from his chair.
"You can help. I'm just trying to be a good host," Jesse calls over his shoulder on his way to the kitchen. He leaves the dishes in the sink to be dealt with later, then pulls out the meringue shells and whipped cream. "Actually, yeah, can you get the strawberries? I'm running out of hands."
Jon grins and hurries back into the kitchen, getting the strawberries out of the fridge. "Ooh, this looks yummy."
"Yeah, I've kind of got a soft spot for cream and berries," Jesse confesses, giving Jon some dessert dishes and spoons to carry as well. "How about you?" he asks, leading the way into the living room. "Favorite dessert?"
"Favorite is probably chocolate mousse," Jon admits, following Jesse and taking a seat on the sofa once he's unloaded everything onto the coffee table. "Ooh, or a big old fudgey slice of chocolate cake."
"Mmm, fudge," Jesse murmurs reverently. He sinks back into the leather cushions, then builds a tower of meringue, whipped cream, and strawberries. "I bet I could find some brandy and we can light this sucker on fire if you want."
"Oh, wow," Jon says with a laugh. "I feel like a destructive kid in science class."
Swallowing his first perfect spoonful, Jesse gives a sensual moan. "Or, you could just enjoy the hell out of it as it is, I guess," he says with a laugh, already layering his next spoonful.
"Yeah," Jon agrees, grinning and shoveling his spoon into his own makeshift tower. "Yum. You should save some whipped cream for later," he suggests with a little eyebrow wiggle. "Maybe Julian would like that."
"I don't know. Julian pretends to have crazy sex all day, and it drives me a little mad," Jesse admits, his cheeks flushing. "Because then he comes home so tired and I just want to jump him, but I don't..." He feels his face burning even hotter and he lets the words trail off with a shake of his head.
"Don't what?" Jon prods gently, taking another bite of the dessert.
Jesse sighs and gathers his courage. After all, it's not like Jon didn't already confess much more to him this evening. "I don't want to bore him," he says in a small voice. "You know, or annoy him with something he is worn out from faking all day."
Jon frowns and puts his fork down, scooting closer and wrapping an arm around Jesse, encouraging him to cuddle closer. "Hey, now. How could a husband as gorgeous as you be boring? That's crazy-talk."
"You know it's not all about looks," Jesse says with an embarrassed laugh, but he leans into the embrace and gets an arm around Jon too. "Hazards of the job though, I know. If it weren't sex, then it's be something like he blows up huge buildings all day, and so our house is too fucking quiet."
"Well, I don't know what kind of show or movie he's in, but I doubt that he's pretending to have hot sex with a beautiful submissive boy who's in love with him and knows all his kinks inside and out every day," Jon reasons. "Pretend is one thing, but that doesn't mean you don't want to come home to the person you live for and make love to him," he argues, reaching for another bite of strawberries with Jesse still held firmly in his arms.
His mouth twisting into a bashful smile, Jesse lays his head on Jon's chest. "I love you," he sighs dreamily, and then laughs. "You have a good perspective on other people." The way Jon looks at Jon himself, however... well.
Jon grins and kisses the top of his head, grabbing another spoonful and holding it to Jesse's lips. "Mom used to say I had good instincts. Anyway, I think you should talk to Julian about it if you're really worried. And maybe think about things you can do when he is tired, you know, like massage, or bathing him. A bath and a handjob can be erotic even if you are exhausted."
"Mmm." Jesse swallows and then licks his lips. "Agreed. I get him into the bath with me as often as I can manage, so I can pamper him." Sitting up once more, Jesse offers Jon a choice strawberry in turn. "It's funny, I didn't see the appeal of service when I first started out. I saw it as something I had to do because I was ordered to. But now I love it, love giving myself that way in order to take care of someone else."
"That's a big part of what I get out of it," Jon says once he's finished nibbling his strawberry. "Like I said, it's not just a sexual need, it's like... it makes me feel good to take care of someone. It gives me focus, and purpose, and it's results-oriented. When I do a good job, I've made someone happy, and I get feedback through his praise. Life isn't normally that cut-and-dry."
Jesse huffs a laugh. "Oh man, you're so right. I know exactly what you mean. You know when you've started, you know when you're finished, you know exactly how well you did or didn't do. Instant validation. Reassurance."
"Exactly," Jon agrees, idly tracing Jesse's arm with his fingertips. "And I think I'm just a caretaker type, anyway. Might not be very masculine, but I'm comfortable with it."
"God I hate that stereotype," Jesse sighs, and gives Jon a wry look. "I'm preaching to the choir, I know. But lots of men are nurturers. And it's got nothing to do with masculinity or lack thereof, or which gender we prefer in bed, or any of that." His face brightens. "Oh hey, speaking of nurturing: do you want to have kids?"
"Kids? Oh God, I don't think so," Jon exclaims. "Kids are such a tremendous responsibility, you know? And I don't think I could shove my sexuality in the closet; being a boy is too much a part of my day-to-day life. What about you?"
"I'm... starting to really think about it," Jesse confesses. "But I've never spoken about it with Julian. I've got no idea how he feels about them. I mean, he's come this far without... maybe he's like you, doesn't want them at all. I don't know." His smile is bashful. "I think he'd be a terrific father, though."
Jon smiles and nods, his fingers trailing gently up and down Jesse's arm. "I think maybe it's easy to get used to not having them, especially if you're in and out of relationships. But if it's something you want, you should tell him. You never know, he might be interested."
"Yeah." Jesse shrugs and slips his arm behind Jon's back. "I'm kind of a crap communicator, really," he says with a self-deprecating laugh. "I mean, I can sit down and have a great conversation with a complete stranger, but when it comes to the most important person in my life I tend to just avoid issues."
Jon nods, tucking his head in the crook of Jesse's neck and shoulder. "It's easy to just let things hum along," he agrees softly. "Simon can tell me that it's all right to bring issues up till he's blue in the face, but I can't help but wonder if a good boy really would complain."
Jesse chews that over for a long moment, because his first impulse is to agree. But eventually he asks, "Is that the limit of what you want to be to him? And, him to you?" Jon has spoken so wistfully of Simon this evening that Jesse had thought there might be more there than straightforward D/s.
"What do you mean?" Jon asks. "You mean, be his boy? That's the ultimate thing to be, isn't it?"
"Yes... or, you could be his boy and be in love with him. And have him love you back." Now that's ultimate, to Jesse's mind.
"But I am," Jon says, confused. "And he is."
"Ahhh." Jesse can't hold back his smile. He squeezes Jon's hand. "You'll be all set then."
Jon grins and squeezes back. "Yeah. I just might be."